Monday, 9 November 2015

The power of images

Someone commented yesterday that this image was 'creative madness'. Ha! Obviously I have no control over what happens in the mind of someone looking at an image and I absolutely wouldn't want to. This is not a conduit model - there's no communication 'of something' from my mind and intentions to any viewer.  This is the very thing I love about images, especially ambiguous or symbolic ones. I think of myself as setting up conditions for a person's mind to go on a voyage inside itself.

In terms of the generation of images, or other kinds of creativity, there's often a popular idea that people who make stuff have particularly fecund imaginations, or are 'creative' in a particular way. Anyone who makes things knows, however, that they steal from and are influenced by everything around them all the time. I'm influenced by and consciously/unconsciously drawing on a tradition that's not familiar to many people in my cultural context. 

It's a tradition that portrays the human being as a cosmic diagram, mapped onto the universe...

...which uses a diagram of the cosmic man as the foundation of the temple...

...which has skeletons dancing with fleshly humans...

...and gods who are themselves part animal, messing with the entrails of humans...

I'm very interested in this part-animal, part-human thing, in a time when we're battling the legacy of Christian ideas of human 'dominion' over the natural world. I remembered it again recently in relation to the Egyptian tradition. How was the relationship between animals and humans seen at a time when the highest powers were seen to take animal, or part-animal, form (and when musical instruments had human heads)?

From my point of view, I'm dealing with the questions that these images raise for me - large questions about the universe, and the place of humans in that universe. And also, I begin to realise, about the beauty and horror of existence. That the condor will peck your eye out as soon as look at you, as well as making a beautiful silhouette in the sky; that your friend can be suddenly and inexplicably taken from you.

'Wild, sensual, raw, alive; showing me the human body in both the maddening limitation of its actuality - muscle, blood, chemicals, brain and bone - and its passionate, empowered glory as the wild and beautiful vehicle we shine through'.

Mallika McCarthy

Just in case you were wondering.